German arms company Heckler & Koch to ‘no longer supply undemocratic, corrupt countries’

The move would rule out arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, India and even Nato member Turkey

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German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch will no longer sell weapons to countries which are corrupt, undemocratic, or not affiliated in some way to Nato, a senior employee has said.

Heckler & Koch, which produces handguns, military rifles and submachine guns, has adopted the new policy because it is difficult to obtain export permits from the government when dealing with such countries.

The move, which would rule out arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, India and even Nato member Turkey, is also an attempt to improve the company’s image, said the source, according to German newspaper Die Welt.

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“We only want to supply stable countries, that is, those which are unquestionably democratic, clearly not corrupt and in Nato or close to Nato,” the anonymous manager is reported to have said.

Heckler & Koch will only supply countries on a “green” list which fit these criteria, said the employee, while countries such as Turkey – rated by the country as “yellow” – would be removed from the company’s books.

The company sued the German government last year over a dispute regarding the export of gun parts to Saudi Arabia, saying it had waited more than two years for approval.


Germany approved a controversial but lucrative deal in 2008 allowing Heckler & Koch to sell parts so the G36 assault rifle could be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.

However, it changed tack in 2013 following media criticism over arms companies fuelling tensions in the middle east.

Germany is the world’s fifth largest arms exporter and Heckler & Koch is said to have produced the assault rifle used by the US army to kill Osama Bin Laden.

The company, which is based in Oberndorf in south west Germany, faced criticism last year when it was accused of illegally exporting assault rifles to Mexico, reported Deutsche Welle.

A report from the Customs Criminal Office in Cologne alleged Heckler & Koch had delivered around 4,800 guns to states where exports are prohibited due to suspected police corruption and human rights abuses.

It said the firm was responsible for “bringing about, encouraging, or at least approving” the sale of guns to these states between 2003 and 2011.

In response to these claims, Heckler & Koch said it was working with investigators and had dismissed two of its staff, Reuters reported at the time.

The Independent has approached Heckler & Koch for comment.